England Test opener Mark Stoneman’s fourth hundred in the Specsavers County Championship this season helped Surrey dominate day one against Yorkshire at the Kia Oval.
The White Rose bowlers endured a morning to forget after Surrey won the toss, and they were fighting an uphill battle to drag things back for the rest of the day.
Stoneman’s 131 off 171 balls with 22 fours proved the standout innings of Surrey’s 398-3 from 96 overs.
Fellow opener Rory Burns added 75 before unbeaten pair Kumar Sangakkara and Ben Foakes hit 85 and 64 respectively.
Former Durham left-hander Stoneman has just returned from England Test duty, helping his country to a 2-1 series win over the West Indies at Lord’s on Saturday.
While he is not a definite to tour Australia this winter, he is very much a likely candidate.
He punished a Yorkshire attack who could not find a consistent line or length, particularly before lunch as he and Burns raced to 126-0 from 30 overs.
In all, the two left-handers shared 178 inside 41 overs.
Stoneman was strong on the drive and cut, reaching his century off 125 balls in the early stages of the afternoon session.
Yorkshire struck three times during the afternoon through Jack Brooks, Tim Bresnan and Ryan Sidebottom as Surrey reached tea at 259-3 from 64 overs.
Brooks had Burns caught behind to hand the visitors the breakthrough in the eleventh over of the afternoon, the 41st.
Bresnan then had Stoneman caught at first slip as he attempted to cut with 233 on the board in the 57th over. He shared 55 with Ryan Patel for the second wicket.
When Patel edged Sidebottom behind for 27 attempting to drive, Surrey were 255-3 in the 62nd.
Unfortunately, the evening was another wicketless session.
Sangakkara settled at the crease quickly after returning from a spell of T20 cricket in the Caribbean and took Surrey beyond 300 in the first half of the evening with the help of Foakes.
Yorkshire’s problems mounted when Azeem Rafiq limped off the field with what looked to be a calf injury shortly before the visitors took the new ball at 319-3 after 80 overs
By that time, Sangakkara, who offered a very sharp return chance to Patterson on 47, had reached 49. He brought up his fifty off 75 balls in the following over.
Rafiq returned to the field just in time for the day’s final 10 overs, with Sangakkara closing in on a seventh hundred of the season in four-day cricket.
He shared an unbroken 143 inside 35 overs with Foakes as Yorkshire conceded 67 boundaries in all.
Yorkshire are without opener Adam Lyth for this match following the birth of his first child on Sunday evening, Ruby Charlotte.
Tom Kohler-Cadmore is set to open the batting in his place.
Yorkshire have also recalled Brooks and Patterson in place of Liam Plunkett (England) and Ben Coad (rested).
“There was a small margin for error with the pitch and a short boundary on one side, but given the experience of our seam bowling attack, we have to be very disappointed in how we performed today.
“The bowling has been quite good this season, but in this instance the stats paint the picture. We were never able to string a good few overs together. We weren’t able to bowl consistently well for long enough. We were always giving them a four ball. Against good players, you can’t afford to do that.
“That’s why the score is as it is.
“We’ve got to bowl them out first before we think about batting. Tomorrow morning is going to be an important session. We need to bowl better, first and foremost. Then we’ve got to bat really well for the rest of the game.”